Archive for October, 2010

(lg2a) boo!

Posted in artifacts, culture, events, food, history, letsgopinas goes to america, locales, people, tradition with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2010 by mijodo

Towards the first day of November, we, Filipinos, busy ourselves in remembering and honoring our dead.  Ordinarily, the feast for the commerating the dead is on November 2, however we seem to start trekking to the cemeteries on the first day of November for some reason.

As November approaches, we ask family members or our handymen to repaint the tombs, niches or family mausoleum of our dead relatives for All Saints Day or Todos los Santos. We spruce up the surroundings, trimming overgrown grass. Then we lit up candles, and buy a pot of flowers as an offering to our dearly departed. Some try to remember their loved ones with quiet prayer and masses, but some opt to have a grand reunion party in the very place where the dead is buried. Obviously, just like in any family gathering, filipino fare, like suman and pansit will be served for everyone who remembers. Some cemeteries will even allow some dance music and a little gambling for the people to while away until the wee hours of the morning.

However, in most parts of America, many prepare for Halloween instead. Americans busy themselves preparing their houses, with scary decorations usually made out of carved pumpkins for jack o’lanterns or some familiar creepy figures to entertain, and perhaps spook out kids, asking for some candy treats from them.

It is said that next to Christmas, halloween is the most anticipated celebration in the calendar.  Parents try to look for some fun costumes  to be worn by their kids during the day. The origin of wearing costumes with masks is done to ward off and confuse the evil spirits roaming around during this season.

It is quite interesting to see how Americans have incorporated the otherworldly into their tradition and customs such that the whole country even celebrates halloween with gusto, and with no religious guilt.  Surely, the Philippines is rich with folklores and mythical creatures like the manananggal (usually a woman who can detach its upper torso from the lower body part), tiyanak (evil toddler), or mangkukulam (witch).  And it is even very popular to scare ourselves about ghosts, hauntings and other deathly concerns during this time through television and movies, and in print. However, our national government is not into celebrating the ghouls and the ghosts of the netherworld, much less putting the event in the timetable of Philippine holidays.

However, there was one time when a certain province in the Visayas Region unabashedly played out its infamous reputation through a festival observance.  Some non-government offices in Capiz, a province in Western Visayas, thought of the Aswang Festival, despite its controversy as aswang is another diabolic folkloric creature that changes in form, from human, usually a woman, to an animal, usually a dog that pounces and eats the fetus of a pregnant woman.

But for some unknown reason, the Capizenos have been unfairly and preposterously identified as aswangs through generations. Probably many of them are offended by the connection, but some have played along with some chagrin.  Some creative Capizenos just tried to utilize the labelling as another way of promoting the province in terms of tourism.

By October 31, 1994, a day before the yearly Todo los Santos, the Aswang Festival was celebrated through parades and  costumes that depict the evil mythic creatures of the Philippines, just like the Halloween festivities in America. However, local government and the Catholic heirarchy intervened, and condemned such celebration as it relates to the evil spirits, and may just make the stigma of the aswangs in the area even more pronounce. It seemed that the festival died out eventually years after.

As they say, to each his own.  Whether we celebrate Halloween or All Souls’ Day/All Saints’ Day or both, may the good spirit be with us always.

Advertisements

(lg2a) from silver to gold, from silver to blood

Posted in artifacts, culture, events, history, letsgopinas goes to america, lifestyle, locales, news, people with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 4, 2010 by mijodo

Precious (2009). Slumdog Millionaire (2008). Tsotsi (2005). Hotel Rwanda (2004). American Beauty (1999). Shine (1996). Strictly Ballroom (1992). Places in the Heart (1984). The Big Chill (1983). Chariots of Fire (1981).

These are some of the films which have captivated the hearts and minds of the cineastes who have come to watch such  in the Toronto International Film Festival or TIFF for almost four decades now.   Second to Cannes International Film Festival in terms of international media mileage and hoopla, TIFF awarded silverscreen flicks with the gold standard of excellence such that the results can be a barometer for Oscar wins in Hollywood. 

This year’s “seeming” Filipino entry in the festival is produced and directed by a Malaysian. A full length film, Pinoy Sunday which stars comedians Bayani Agbayani and Epy Quizon delves on a narrative of two men and a couch.  Somehow it is not sure how the audience responded to this film, but in recent years, there have been other Filipino Films which have garnered critical praises and plaudits in other international film festivals.

Moscow International Film Festival has awarded the International Critics Prize to Jeffrey Jeturian’s Kubrador (2006) which centers  on the illegal numbers game, Jueteng.  Also, the Berlin Film Festival has honored Auraeus Solito’s Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros (2005) which is on how a family of men copes tenderly on the blossoming of an effeminate gay boy in a slum environment.

The newest golden boy in Philippine cinema is Director Brillante Mendoza whose account of films gives hope and shock to the Philippine and international cinephiles. His slew of dark, bleak, and almost raw films such as Masahista (2005),  Manoro (2006), Serbis (2008) has received numerous awards and citations in different award giving bodies. But it is in Kinatay (2009) where Mendoza gets recognized as the avant garde director, and who has snatched the Best Director plum at Cannes Film Festival.

Body Heat (USA). Gallipoli (Australia). The French Lieutenant’s Woman (Great Britain). Smash Palace (New Zealand). 36 Chowringhee Lane (India). Oro, Plata, Mata (Philippines).
——–
These were the films which graced the defunct and much ballyhooed Manila International Film Festival (MIFF) in the early 80’s. It was a gargantuan project by Imelda Marcos who had wanted Manila as the international film market of the Far East. Again, just like any project of the Marcoses,the MIFF was seen as another whim and caprice by its project leader, Imelda.
———
However just days before the MIFF was formally opened, almost 200 workers who sped up the completion of  the Manila Film Center Building at the Cultural Center of the Philippines reclamation grounds in Pasay, met their tragic ending, which news was heavily controlled by the government’s news agencies.
———–
Apparently, the scaffolding slab on the second floor had collapsed because of the shoddy and expedited work of the people. And the fast drying cement landed on the sleeping workers at the ground floor. Not many were able to escape catastrophe. For the few who were able to live and breathe under the rubble and cement, few had been taken out to actually survive and be brought to the hospital. There was not much time for rescue as the film festival was just days away.  There was little attempt to excavate people under the ruin. Some were left to die, and be finally covered with new cement. 
———–
The Manila International Film Festival did not prosper, even with the visits of then Hollywood A listers such as Brooke Shields, Jeremy Irons, and Imelda’s good friend, George Hamilton. The international film fest was staged only for two years. Years after that, blue films  were introduced without censorship and cuts in the film showings inside the Film Center. This was done to placate political rumblings in Manila.
——
However such bomba pictures were said not to appease the ghosts of the construction workers inside the building premises. Imelda, and her Blue Ladies had even asked knowledgeable spiritual  advisors from Northern Mountain provinces to exorcise the haunted building of such malevelont dwellers, ready to avenge their untimely deaths.  One witness even mentioned that the ceremony had used live chickens and blood to cast out the restless spirits.
——
Strange rumors had been active then, right after inauguration. The accidental Tagaytay death of Betty Benitez, one of the active handlers of the film festival, was seen as a seeming result of such payback.
————
Had it been responsibly handled, MIFF could have been another prestigious film festival such as the ones in Toronto or even Cannes. However what remains of the Parthenon like – Film Center is just a reminder of a cavernous, sick excesses of the past and its proponent.